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EARLE'S ACADEMY VING CHUN KUEN

CAFFEINE HIGH

Official Newsletter Australasian Ving Chun Kuen Instructors Association

Volume 1 Issue 4
December 2014

Welcome to this the 4th edition of our official Instructors newsletter.

We invite any and all questions, feedback, compliments

and even welcome constructive criticism

Just like when we are having a coffee and chat

Some background to my manuscript "VING CHUN KUEN: The Art Of Invincibility"

Kevin Earle

When I began my Wing Chun journey literature about the Wing Chun system was scarce, there being only one book available in English; Wing Chun KungFu, by Rolf Clausnitzer and Greco Wong (a copy of which had been forwarded to me in 1969). Clausnitzer's book was followed in 1972 by James Lee's book of the same name. As Wing Chun grew in popularity following the release of Bruce Lee's movies other books rapidly followed.

 

I purchased all of those early books, but by and large I was disappointed by most. Apart from the authors name the contents were pretty much just copies of each other. Just a different face illustrating the forms and to my mind the contents lacked substance. I would pick through my library and found myself returning time and time again to Clausnitzer's book, the book that had inspired me on my journey during my early years in Wing Chun. What makes this book stand out from the hundreds of other Wing Chun books and E publications that have been written? Simplicity.

 

Clausnitzer & Wong's book is a simple introduction to this fascinating art of Wing Chun. I found a depth of meaning in it's few pages. Yet perhaps I was finding meaning that the authors had never intended, after all It was my first written introduction to Wing Chun and I poured over it every day, memorizing every line and analysing every word. Simple. Practical. Economical. Simultaneous. Words that fired my imagination. "If you want to excel at kungfu", Sifu Greg later told me, "all you need is a good imagination!" Well, I had that.

Equally as good as Clausnitzer's book is "Wing Chun KungFu" by Jim Fung and Karen Armstrong. What do these two books have in common? Simplicity. However as good as they are at introducing the art of Wing Chun to the wider public and as a text for the Kungfu novice I still felt there was a need for a manual for the student who had moved well beyond the novice stage, yet would still inspire the inquisitive mind of the beginner. A simple book.

 

One mustn't overlook the writings of Chu Shong Tin. Given the nickname "King Of Siu Nim Tao" by Ip Man (who was fond, I am told, of bestowing nicknames on his students), Chu was one of the three original students of Ip Man in Hong Kong. Chu passed away in 2014 (28th July). Fortunately for those who found value in his teachings Chu published an English edition of his book in 2011. Simply titled "The Book Of Wing Chun", to the keen student of Wing Chun it can be worth its weight in gold.

 

Simply titled "The Book Of Wing Chun", Chu's book is worth its weight in gold. A man of few words Chu provide more clarity and He One paragraph However Chu didn't speak English,

 

 

he Wing Chun world ithout leaving us much in writing. A man of few words it seems, Chu hasn't written much.

 And what can be simpler than invincibility?

 

 

For a number of years I put my Wing Chun thoughts on paper, and occasionally I would organise them into chapters and headings. But I was never happy with the outcome. It was, I thought, just like most of the other Wing Chun books. A clone. A copy of a copy of a copy. So out it would go. Who needs another Wing Chun book just like all the rest? Then someone else would publish their Wing Chun book and I'd read it and it would be just like all the rest and so I would ask myself, "Do you really want to add to this mess?"

 

 

Why couldn't I put in writing the ideas I could articulate in person?

 

, but was never happy. Into the bin they went for years, and organising them into

When I first began to compose my thoughts 

 

There appears to be widespread misunderstanding not only within the wider martial art community but also among many Wing Chun practitioners concerning the nature of Kungfu. I addressed this matter briefly in "just my rant" (see previous issue, 3)

 

I offer further clarification in the introduction to the chapter titled "Evergreen"

(from Ving Chun Kuen: The Art of Invincibility", before continuing

with my analytical essay on Siu Nim Tao.

EVERGREEN

("EVERGREEN" from my works "Ving Chun Kuen; The Art Of Invincibility" is subject to copyright. I ask that you do not publish this material elsewhere, but respect that I am presenting this information to you the Instructor for your own use in your personal Wing Chun journey and to share with your students when you feel it is appropriate, as the ideas as presented are not complete and may not be fully understood without some hands on guidance to accompany the idea).

INTRODUCTION

I don't wish to dwell on other methods of Wing Chun or draw comparison with other martial arts. Suffice it to say that from my own observations via numerous books, (followed by the internet and other media) I had, in earlier years, reached a (valid, I believe) conclusion that the majority of Wing Chun Instructors had a somewhat limited understanding of what constituted Wing Chun.

 

However I became so outweighed by the sheer number and variety of Wing Chun (so-called) styles and methods that are paraded about that I long ago gave up any idea of setting others on the 'right path', as it were, my own time and energy being better spent focusing on my own training, developing my own understanding, and assisting those near to me. Attainable endeavours, and very rewarding.

 

I realize that I am preaching to the converted, however I believe it is important that we are all on the same page so that the essence of the art is not lost, or watered down by the introduction of misleading ideas from other arts. (See my article on Kuen Kit in Issue 3, "Learn To Think Before You Walk")  

either that or there is a huge variety of Wing Chun systems Many talk the Wing Chun talk but are unable to demonstrate it in practise. If the instructor does not understand the subject, how can the student find the path?

 

So what does constitute Wing Chun - and what is Earle's Ving Chun Kuen? It is here we should start, with a definition of Ving Chun.

 

Ving Chun: A system of Chinese Wu Shu (Kungfu). Wu Shu means "To stop the spear" (to stop the fight).

 

Definition of Ving Chun: Force. Specifically, "The Control of Force".

 

Earle's Ving Chun Kuen "The Art of Invincibility": The Force of Idea. The Idea being to create an "Invincible Force".

 

Anyone can fight, and the skills developed through Ving Chun training will be used in fighting if to fight is the last resort. However it can be seen that Ving Chun being a system of Kungfu is not a fighting art, rather it is an art of "not fighting". In that respect it is a warrior art.

 

The Path: If one can develop an invincible force one can control force, and therefore there is no fight. Ving Chun is an art of fighting without fighting. It is not meant for competition, since It is not a fighting art. Fighting arts are concerned with winning over losing, while Ving Chun is not concerned with winning or losing.

 

Developing invincibility does not mean that one will become an invincible fighter, since "invincible" and "fighter" are not synonymous. Fighting arts train people to fight, thus by definition fighting arts cannot develop invincibility. Only by "not fighting" can the state of Invincibility be achieved.

 

I believe that my idea of The Path (to invincibility) as I have outlined above is unique to Earle's Academy. Some might choose to believe that invincibility is impossible to attain - in which case they will never attain it. However the idea of invincibility is not just my idea. For further insight into the subject of invincibility I recommend that you Read Here.

Body, Mind, and Emotion


To achieve Invincibility one must unite the body, mind, and emotion.

 

We begin with Body; by learning (memorizing) the movements of the form; this is the copying stage. We might then begin to develop an understanding of how the individual movements that make up the form might be used in practical application; then we might begin to work on relaxation of musculature, and the unlocking of joints.

....to be continued

EVERGREEN

by Kevin Earle

PART 1

I recall a training session when one of our members asked me which move in Siu Nim Tao was the most important one. I put his question to the class, and the general agreement was that all the moves were equally important, and that the most important one was the one that you are performing ‘in the moment’.

 

These are correct answers, but I believe that there is one move ‘in the moment’ that stands out above all others in order of importance – the very first move. Why do I consider it to be more important? Well, if the first movement is not correctly understood, how is it possible to correctly perform the second movement, the third movement, and so on; shouldn't it be best to get the first movement correct before moving on to the second movement?

 

I believe it should, but it seems to me that the first movement is the most neglected and misunderstood movement in the entire form. I wrote in issue 2 “.. we have Siu Nim Tao as a blueprint for ‘Control of Force’, whereby we begin to build and embed neurological pathways uniting the mind and body.” To build secure neural pathways requires repetition; it requires that all movement follows the same pathway or pattern if we are to maximize our potential. Obviously that includes the first movement, and on that note I repeat here one of my favourite Ving Chun quotes of all time;

"Impeccability begins with a single act that has to be deliberate, precise and sustained.

If that act is repeated long enough, one acquires a sense of unbending intent which

can be applied to anything else. If that is accomplished the road is clear.

One thing will lead to another until the warrior realizes his full potential".

- Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda

From "Evergreen". To be continued

STRENGTH TRAINING

Introduction

I have often said that anyone who says that size doesn’t matter has never been in a fight with a big mean motherfucker who is hell bent on ripping of your arms and legs. Rather a small mean motherfucker any day. (Well so long as their name isn’t Anthony or Beau!). Anyway, in this regard I was recently contacted by a Ving Chun student who had been in a confrontation with a person he described as being ‘twice his size’. One question he posed was, “... size would have extreme advantage over wing chun no matter what?”

While I can agree that by a purely physical comparison the advantage would appear to lay with the larger person, history gives numerous examples of smaller men overcoming larger men and of small military forces being victorious over seemingly insurmountable odds. One need look no further than the victory of Korean Admiral Yi Sun-sin with 13 ships under his command defeating an invading Japanese fleet of 330 ships; the success of 120 Indian army personnel with one jeep, against a Pakistani force consisting of 2,800 soldiers, 65 tanks and more than 130 other military vehicles at the battle of Longewala; the battle of Gate Pa, in which some 230 Maori warriors were victorious against a British force 0f 1,700 soldiers armed with 17 artillery pieces which rained down some 17,000lbs of explosives on the beleaguered warriors;

I endeavoured to point out that the size of one’s assailant is irrelevant; that the only limits we have are those we impose on ourselves. It is our mind that imposes the limits - or not.

 

Occasionally at Saj Minhas & Anthony Burke on the topic of weight training.... I believe Wing Chun only requires ones natural strength (as acquired through genetics and lifestyle) and not on 'developed' strength. Since one of the basic tenets is 'relaxation', muscular strength should make no difference to ones application of the method.

I also believe it is a misunderstanding to develop ones punching (extensor) muscles solely, since this will create an imbalance in ones musculature, in affect altering the point at which the triceps & biceps are in harmony.... this can also affect the linear positioning of tahn sau and fook sau by creating tension in the biceps and deltoids... all factors which have a detrimental affect on ones chi sau.

If one wishes to improve their Wing Chun then I suggest that their time would be better spent practising SNT and chi sau - however if one enjoys weight training then I suggest one should focus on developing all-over symmetry, harmony, and balance in musculature to best avoid the problems I have mentioned.

Kevin EarleTechnical Advisor at Earle's Academy

Hi Saj. Re your question arising from my comments on weight training "Can strength be complimentary to wing chun but not primary. for example when a good grappler may get you to the floor and who is 5 stone heavier!?".

First let me say that I believe I understand where you are coming from. I have often said that "those who say that size doesn't matter have never been in a fight with a big powerful man". However I don't believe that one should focus on the variables of size, strength, skill, or 'style' etcetera that one may be confronted with, since such variables are to numerous to possibly quantify and prepare for.

I believe one should focus on developing themselves to their fullest potential in the skill sets they enjoy.

Personally I enjoy the obvious benefits associated with weight training; maintaining cardio health, muscle tone, and bone density, as well as a little stroking of the ego. However apart from those general benefits I am of the very firm opinion that weight training will not improve ones Wing Chun skill one iota, and more than likely will be detrimental.

Kevin EarleTechnical Advisor at Earle's Academy

Interesting Anthony. It will possibly make one stronger and better able to lift a weight, but less likely to make one a better fighter, Wing Chun or otherwise. Weight training may make one more capable of playing chess, but may do little to improve ones game.

It is a basic Wing Chun tenet, (at least as I understand it - others may take a different view) that one should not build on a foundation of 'developed' strength, since such is a foundation of shifting sand....

Hi Saj, Hi Anthony. I agree with both of you re your comments on strength training. The benefits of weight training as a supplement to all sporting activities is well understood by the majority of sports coaches today, and I myself enjoy weight training for the associated health benefits I mentioned earlier. As well as those obvious health benefits it can also help with mental clarity, focus, and discipline. In that regard (health) weight training is a great stand-alone activity as well as a being a supplement to other sports. 

'Supplemental to' means secondary to - meaning that ultimately the best exercise for any activity is the activity itself, another training principle well understood by sports coaches and athletes, and Wing Chun training has many health benefits including those mentioned.

 

I will begin by pointing out here that punching is the opposite to pushing or pulling which are the two main actions of weight lifting, and that power is not derived from muscle size.

 

Nor are 'Skill' and 'Strength' synonymous - yet they are easily confused.

 

'Developed strength' is that strength gained through the lifting of weights. Weight training is resistance training, which is the antithesis of Wing Chun since it creates automatic reflexive resistance tension of the muscles when meeting a force.

 

Once trained a neurological reflexive action is not easily overcome. Although one can learn to suppress reflexive tension the reflex might resurface under certain conditions, for example during extreme startle reaction. Such tension is a common problem observable in many chi sau practitioners.

 

Developed strength is lost very quickly - I believe it drops by about 60% in 90 days. Similar declines are seen for all types of fitness training including flexibility and endurance. (According to ACE Fitness " In the most drastic scenario, you can lose up to 80 percent of your fitness level in as few as two weeks if you're new to exercise. If you are incredibly fit and have been training for years, you'll hang onto your fitness level for about three months,) - so if one has built their 'skill' on a foundation of 'developed strength' their skill level also declines as their strength declines. (One may need to stop working out for any number of reasons; social commitments, illness, injury, holidays, work, and travel, may all interfere with training routines.)

 

The above, coupled with my earlier examples (altering the point at which the triceps & biceps are in harmony which can affect the linear positioning of tahn sau and fook sau by creating tension in the biceps and deltoids...) should be food for thought for those having an honest analysis of their understanding and training of Wing Chun... however I have been exposed to the wider Wing Chun community long enough to be aware that there is a huge diversity in method and understanding, much of it far removed from my own understanding of what is Wing Chun, so please, take it as you will...

Kevin Earle Technical Advisor at Earle's Academy

Hi Justin. I appreciate your input to this discussion. 

I believe that Wing Chun is a perfect system, and as such it needs no addition, and neither can it be enhanced (since it is already perfect).

As individuals, however, we can (as required) enhance our physical attributes; maintain or improve our body mechanics, our posture, our muscle tonus, and anything else that may improve our quality of life.

 

Naturally being in a healthy physical condition enhances our ability to perform.

 

As to the Shaolin monks training with weights, I believe Wing Chun is the opposite of other martial arts, therefore the training methods which are required for those systems to be effective are largely irrelevant. For example I do not adopt a regime of hanging weights from my testicles.

 

There is no doubting Bruce Lee's physical attributes. He was a superb physical specimen. However whether those attributes improved his Wing Chun is a matter of unresolvable debate. I recall one of the Elder Wing Chun masters stating "Bruce Lee? Could have got quite good if he'd have kept training (Wing Chun)".

You ask: "How about you, do you not include fitness as part of your training routine?"

Regularity of Siu Nim Tau and Chi sau, for example, develop a type of fitness supportive of Wing Chun. Therefore other supplementary fitness training is not part of any Wing Chun training I personally participate in. In my opinion any Wing Chun practitioner who believes he/she will “improve” their Wing Chun by undertaking strength or fitness training has a misunderstanding, and will set themselves on the wrong path.

Therefore since all the physical strength that the “average” individual requires to excel at Wing Chun is their “natural” strength, as in the strength to move their arm, I believe their training time should be better spent practising their forms, chi sau, etc., rather than spending such time developing strength, fitness, or endurance which may in fact hinder their progress in developing skill in Wing Chun.

I see Wing Chun as being ideal for the small, the weak, the vulnerable, whereas I see an art like Karate as being better suited for the big, the strong, and the athletic individual. By this, I do not mean that big strong athletic types cannot be good at Wing Chun; on the contrary, such individuals can excel at Wing Chun if they apply themselves correctly. On the other hand small weak persons would fare better turning away from Karate and learning Wing Chun.

However, some may be “warriors”, and wish to enter the competitive arena. Having first developed some basic skills such individuals should, in my opinion, (although it is my further opinion that such endeavours are the antithesis of Wing Chun) most definitely invest the greater part of their training effort into developing their overall combat toughness by undertaking rigorous strength, endurance, and fitness training, repetitive drilling, and sparring. Having said that, I reinforce the idea that serious Wing Chun practitioners need be aware and study carefully the contra affect strength and fitness training may have on their Wing Chun development.

Finally, there is no harm and every advantage for any person to maintain their health and longevity through a personally tailored health program. Certainly ones skill in Wing Chun is conducive to (and will be supported, not hurt by), living a healthy lifestyle.

If you are a beginner when it comes to fighting, that concept itself for you is likely no more than throwing a punch here or giving off a kick there. However, if you manage to have someone who cares to explain to you the essence of Wing Chun, it is highly likely that within 5 minutes, you’ll learn about the unique way in which a Wing Chun practitioner pushes enemies back. You will also learn about the standards used in Chi Sao(“sticking hands”), and the secret behind defeating enemies using the shortest path and the fastest of speed.

That is what Wing Chun is all about- using simple, practical moves to defeat enemies. Over a mere 23 years, the aging Master Yip Man has made Wing Chun hugely popular in Hong Kong, and has recruited many enthusiasts under his wing. Surely there’s ample reason behind the popularity of the sport and the diligence of many of his students.

To introduce the art of Wing Chun, I have conducted a special interview with Master Yip Man. The 76-year-old is still in his physical prime; he is sharp, energetic, and offered a response to every single one of my questions. I have learnt much from this interview.

Those who are avid readers of martial arts novels are surely familiar with the story of “Fong Sai Yuk” challenges the defender of the ring”. One of the most notable characters in the story is the monk Zhi Sin; the nun Ng Mui trained under the same master as Zhi Sin, and she was actually proclaimed as the founder of Wing Chun. Looking back, this story takes us back some two hundred years. If Wing Chun was founded by a woman, surely the style will be notably smoother and more subdued. Contrary to such popular belief, however, Wing Chun is actually much more aggressive than other martial arts styles. This stemmed from the fact that the founder is a woman, whose stamina is no match if she opposes a man in a fight; if she is not able to take down him down right at the start of the match, it will be impossible for her to continue on.

Along that same tangent, the first rule of Wing Chun is therefore focused on aggression and speed; one must be able to inflict harm on an enemy at the wave of a hand, so that the enemy will know that he must retreat. Wu Mei passed on her skills to yet another woman, whose name gave birth to this particular school of martial arts. Her name was Yim Wing Chun, and she then taught what she had learned to her husband, Leung Bac Chou. When it was Leung’s turn to teach his disciples, since the art itself was yet to be named, Leung named it in memory of his wife and aptly called it Wing Chun.

Wong Wa Bo, one of Leung’s student and who worked in a performance troop, then taught the art to Leung Yi Tai. Yi Tai then taught Leung Zan. We all now familiar with the fact that Leung Zan rose to fame in the city of Foshan (in the province of Guangdong, China). His star disciple, Chan Wa Shun (whose nickname was “Loose change Wa”), eventually became the Master of Master Yip Man himself. Chan operated his martial arts school for thirty-two years, but only taught sixteen disciples; Yip Man was the last of his students.

Yip Man is presently 76 years of age. He started practicing Chinese martial arts at thirteen years of age, and moved to Hong Kong from Mainland China in 1949. Few residents of Hong Kong knew of Wing Chun back then; after twenty-three years of hard work, the result of Yip Man’s work is now visible. Master Yip has stopped taking on new students years ago. Leung Ting, an instructor who hosts Wing Chun classes in various schools such as Baptist College, Zhuhai College and Chinese Baptist Student centre is one of the last of his closed-door students.

When talking to Master Yip Man, it was clear that he acted nothing like his age. He spoke with a clear, strong voice, and was not at all boastful. To satisfy our readers’ curiosity, I asked Master Yip to speak of his heroic acts back in the day, but was curtly refused. Master Yip was not willing to boast about his past, which frankly was a lost on our part.

From what I had heard, however, Master Yip is known for two major acts back in the city of Foshan. Many residents back then were well aware of the tale. It was said that the master, in the prime of his hot-headed youth, had an argument with a military officer while attending a Piaose event (“Parade of Children’s Float”). The officer took out a pistol and pointed it at Yip Man, all the while attempting to shoot him. Seeing the danger in front of him, Yip lunged forward and grabbed hold of the pistol. He then gave it a strong shove and the barrel actually broke under his force. It hit the ground and had everyone at the scene utterly shocked. To this story, Master Yip’s explanation was that the axis within the barrel was already a bit loose, and it was no thicker than a toothpick. For this reason he could easily dismantle the part with force, and that this incident should really be heard with a grain of salt. He was being very modest indeed.

Another story recounted Master Yip standing on the ground in a “standing asana” pose (where one folds one leg and the entire body is supported by one leg rooted to the ground). Several people pushed him with force at the same time but were not able to make him budget. It can be seen that he has some very strong stamina. When asked about this story, Master Yip responded with a smile: “I don’t have the same kind of strength anymore.“

In Master Yips school I saw an oddly-shaped wooden post. the post is surrounded by a square frame, and on the post three planks are affixed horizontally. Under the actual post a crooked piece of plank can be seen. I asked what this structure is all about and was told that this is the Muk Yan Jong (木人樁)(“wooden dummy”). The four planks act as the four limbs of the human body ; when practicing, fists or kicks land on these “limbs” to simulate an actual fight.

To start practicing Wing Chun implies practicing “routines” or forms. The most basic routine is Siu Lim Tao (小念頭) (“little idea/thought”), and it’s the start to all training. It is then followed by Chum Kiu (尋橋) (“search for the bridge”), an intermediate routine which focuses on sidelong and shoulder close-range attacks. The last routine is Biu Jee (鏢指) (“darting fingers”), the most advanced routine of all. One fixates itself to the ground by spreading legs to a bit less than shoulder width and then sits down on an “invisible chair”. This form takes up little space, but the tip of the toes of both feet turn inwards, which marks its uniqueness in pose. This is to accompany routines which do not require lots of jumping, but ones where one glides along the ground. However, while the limbs are focused on “gliding”, one is able to firmly root itself to the ground and do not appear to be afloat.

Chi Sao (詠春) (“sticking hands”) is one of the key learning to practicing Wing Chun. Chi Sao is useful for a variety of reasons; other than strengthening and one’s elbow and increasing its stamina in attacks, one can also use it to train oneself in defensive moves. These are inclusive of freestyle boxing moves. Chi Sao is, in essence, key to any self-defense practice!

When we speak of the variety of routines Wing Chun, we are essentially looking at three forms: Fuk Sao, Tan Sao and Bong Sao. Compared to your regular martial arts routine (“punches and kicks”), you are essentially looking at three types of defense acts. According to Master Yip, these three routines have merged all of the multiple formations of Wing Chun within. Essentially, all of Wing Chun’s movements are combinations of three types of movements made by the arms, the flipping of the forearm, and the lowering of arms. Regular defense moves used in other martial arts routines are typically characterized by the move where, when someone throws a punch at you or delivers a kick, one defends oneself by blocking the move with one arm, and then striking back with the other arm or using both legs to launch an attack. In terms of the order of movement, the blockage always occurs before the actual attack; similarly, the defense and the attack usually cannot occur at the same time. Wing Chun, on the other hand, is entirely different; when one faces a punch, upon receiving that punch, a Wing Chun practitioner is able to attack at the same time. Simultaneous dissolution of an attack, or turning an oncoming attack into a defense, is the most unique concept of Wing Chun. This effectively calls for the slogan (in memorizing and practicing the move), whereby “an attack is a defense”.

Master Yip Man demonstrates Tan Sao, Fuk Sao and Bong Sao during the interview. The person whose back is facing the camera is his student, Leung Ting.

One more thing to note is the concept of “centerline”. What does it entail, exactly? Master Yip mentions that all moves targets the “core center”; in other words, turning one’s “bridge hands” into a core, so that when an opponent strikes, one is too always ensure that their bridging hands are outside of one’s own bridging hands, so that you may hang onto the advantage of being able to both attack and defend. Citing an example, Master Yip says that “all punches thrown are in a rectangular shape, resembling the Chinese character for the sun; we start from the heart and throws a straight-lined punch, acting in the form of the string on a bow. If the opponent throws a punch in the form of a hook or a hyperbole, that attack comes in the formation of a curve, much like the shape of the actual handle on a bow. We call these moves “riding along the bow” (anyone with a slight understanding of algebra will know that the curved line is longer than the straight line). Simultaneously, even compared to a straight punch that starts from the waistline, Wing Chun’s version is still of a shorter distance; therefore, all of our punches move strictly from the area near the heart“.

Other than using the example of a string and a bow to illustrate this example in Wing Chun movements, Master Yip also talked of Wing Chun as “bamboo” and “hammer”. In theory, a bamboo stick, a hammer and a bow string have nothing in common and are not comparable. However, what makes Wing Chun indicative of a bamboo stick is that when the opponent strikes close, if one uses Tan Sao, Fuk Sao or Bong Sao to receive the attack, that actual strike will be as if hitting on a bamboo stick – one’s defence will, at that moment of attack, becomes pushed back as a result of the force, just like bamboo. When that strike retreats, however, one immediately strikes back at top speed, much like a bamboo stick will bounce back after with great force.

In terms of the example concerning a “hammer”, this is speaking of the way one exerts force in Wing Chun movements. The force exerted should be exactly like the way one strikes a hammer into the wall. Everyone who has used a hammer to hit a nail knows that if you struck it with brute force, not only does the nail fail to penetrate the wall, it might actually becomes deformed. One must strike the nail cautiously, using the wrist as an axis and lightly hammering it in. This is what Wing Chun is all about.

Many of you might think now that Wing Chun is all about “softness”, with the focus on using flexibility and softness to overcome strength. I posed this very same question to Master Yip.

+ Master Yip Man and his student Leung Tin demonstrate Fuk Sao; when the opponent attacks with a punch, Master Yip firmly blocks the attack with Fuk Sao, then dissolute the attack and moves forward with an attack of his own, all of which aptly captured by the force of the opponent’s attack.

+ Master Yip holds onto the opponent’s wrist, and immediately raises his right leg for a kick aimed at the small of the opponent’s stomach.

Master Yip replied: “Wing Chun is in some sense a “soft” school of martial arts. However, if one equates that work as weak or without strength, then they are dead wrong. Chi Sao in Wing Chun is to maintain one’s flexibility and softness, all the while keeping in the strength to fight back, much like the flexible nature of bamboo“.

Master Yip then mentioned the slogan used in Wing Chun – “keeping in the incoming strike, sending away the strike-back; drop it all and go straight ahead“. He then points out that the use of Tan Sao, Fuk Sao, Bong Sao is not about pushing a move to the side or moving one’s arms back and forth between the right and the left. “Sending away” refers simply to sending one’s move forward; “going straight ahead” refers to, well, moving ahead, and “keeping it in” simply means receiving and elbowing onto the opponent’s punch, instead of pushing away that attack with sheer force.

Many individuals who are familiar with boxing have told me that these days crimes are on the rise. When you are on a flight of stairs you might run into robbers who grab you from behind; in public washrooms no one is immune from robbery. Likewise in restaurants, one look in the wrong direction might leave you beat up and bruised at the hands of gang members. In tight spaces as these, nothing works better to defend oneself than practicing Wing Chun.

I believe that there’s more than an ounce of truth to this declaration. With the various schools in the field of martial arts, each one boasts of an unique edge; some are more about attacks, some are particularly well-suited for defense. Some have simpler movements, some have complicated ones. Some schools require a large amount of space so you can hone your skills, but some are particularly well-suited to tight spaces. Wing Chun definitely falls into the latter category.

When asked this question, Master Yip’s response was “to each his own“.

Other than fists, Wing Chun also has the Luk Dim Boon Kwun (六點半棍)(“6.5 point pole”) and the Baat Jaam Do (八斬刀) (“Eight slash sword”). Before moving onto practicing Wing Chun with weapon, one must first learn the pole squat, then move onto nailing the pole onto the ground. It then moves onto closing in the poles, as well as darting, closing in and firing the pole. After all these moves one then is qualified to learn the actual routine. As for the Eight slash sword, its core concept comes from fists routines.

Another thing worth mentioning is that another martial arts school, the school of Yong Chun (永春)(Weng Chun) is also very apt at using the 6.5 point pole, but the moves are entirely different. Additionally, the dialect spoken in the Foshan area pronounces “Yong” and “Wing” as the same, which has led to many’s confusion and believing that these two schools are one and the same.

Master Yip has asked me to pass on the following message to our dear readers: “Yong Chun and Wing Chun both stem from Shaolin, but if you were to believe that they are one and the same, than you will be far from the truth!“

Photo Captions

  • Master Yip Man demonstrates Tan Sao, Fuk Sao and Bong Sao during the interview. The person whose back is facing the camera is his student, Leung Ting.
  • Master Yip Man and his student Leung Tin demonstrate Fuk Sao; when the opponent attacks with a punch, Master Yip firmly blocks the attack with Fuk Sao, then dissolute the attack and moves forward with an attack of his own, all of which aptly captured by the force of the opponent’s attack.
  • Master Yip holds onto the opponent’s wrist, and immediately raises his right leg for a kick aimed at the small of the opponent’s stomach.

Sources:

[1] Lixi(?),新武侠 New Martial Hero Magazine, Hong Kong, 1972(?)

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In this and upcoming newsletters I shall attempt to give some detailed analysis of Ving Chun and the Siu Nim Tao form. Some of this information may have never been published before, so it could be said that it is unique to Earle's Academy Ving Chun.

Regardless, I have arrived at my present understanding as a direct

result of my personal training over some 45 years.

I am releasing this material to you because I wish you to have access to it before I place it in the public domain

(when - if ever - I choose to do so).

It is from my manuscript "Ving Chun Kuen The Art Of Invincibility", and is subject to copyright, therefore I ask that you do not publish this material elsewhere, but respect that I am presenting this information to you the Instructor for your own use in your personal Wing Chun journey, and to use with your students when you feel it is appropriate.

The ideas as presented are not complete and may not be fully understood without hands on guidance to accompany the idea. - Kevin Earle

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